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It’s Lizzo’s favourite festival and, it turns out, Damon Albarn’s too. You’re not quite sure what you’ll get with the line-up at Roskilde and the festival-goers seem to love it that way. An 8-day mix of activism, art and all-out music, the Danish really know how to throw a party. So, make sure to pack your trusty kicks as the festival grounds have plenty of events, pop-ups and activities. A non-profit event built on a system of volunteers, Roskilde has quickly risen in the ranks as one of Europe’s must-experience festivals. Running since 1971, from David Bowie and Nirvana to Lil Nas X and Lizzo, plenty of superstars have graced Roskilde’s iconic Orange stage. 

This year, the hit festival decided to shake things up. Leaning into the subtle theme of utopia, the green-friendly event took a greater step in achieving inclusivity across its art, food and festivalling. Across a span of stages, there was the chance to tune into pop, rap, electronica and more. In the latter part of Roskilde, a hefty five days of solely music, the event really got into the swing of things. With promising headline acts like Rosalia, Christine and the Queens, and Lil Nas X, the Danish spectacle proved it was capable of putting on a show. 

Now, it’s true, Roskilde’s line-up wasn’t particularly exclusive. If you hit up Primavera or were set to attend Switzerland’s jazz festival, there was bound to be some artist overlap. In fact, Madrid’s Mad Cool has promised very similar headliners. Yet, still, the enthusiasm for international talent and, of course, native Scandinavian musicians was unparalleled. 

But, the real stars of the show appeared on the smaller stages. She’d had a killer set at Glastonbury (yes, including that moment) and brought the star power to the Arena stage. A nu-metal-meets-cowboy aesthetic showcase, Rina Sawayama proved her moment is now. Backed by a flashy catalogue of early-era tunes and current album hits, the artist pulled off a seamless set that stood as a festival highlight.

Elsewhere, another icon in the making made her mark at Roskilde. Ethel Cain, the very Mother of Cain, breezily stole hearts at the smaller Avalon stage. Sweeping through fan-favourites ‘American Teenager’, ‘Gibson Girl’ and a slower, acoustic rendition of ‘Crush’, Cain aka Hayden Anhedönia captivated her audiences with little more than a live band and stellar vocals. 

Thursday, it proved, was a day of queer spotlighting and celebration. 070 Shake – a name overdue credit – rocked the Apollo stage with festival goers swamping the small stage. Later, Lil Nas X took over the infamous Orange stage decked out in brilliant outfits and in perfect sync with his well-versed dance troupe. Friday, too, always brought the queer community to life.

Arena, once again, became the go-to for the Roskilde festive spirit. Japanese Breakfast transformed the airy tent into an intimate set that could have been London’s tiny Omeara. Meanwhile, the evening kicked off with a huge set by Spanish superstar Rosalía and was sealed off by a nuanced, thoughtful early morning performance from Christine and The Queens. If you ask us, that’s a back-to-back you won’t forget anytime soon! 

The final night of Roskilde didn’t fall short either. While there was a shortage of LGBTQ+ talent on the roster, there were plenty of queer-adjacent acts for the community to get stuck into. Caroline Polachek is known for her outstanding album but, at the Arena stage, the American artist transported us to a synth-pop island kitted out with her indie anthems.

And, of course, we have to give Lizzo her due too. Yes, everyone was raving about her Glastonbury set but kudos need to be given to her Roskilde show too. A happy-meets-healing performance, Lizzo pulled off her chart-hitting tracks as well as effortless flute playing – after at least five days camping, the light-hearted pop rejuvenation is exactly what we needed. 

So, with another year in the bag, Roskilde gave way to something more than a reimagined festival. With an enjoyable variation of artists and a committed effort to platform new and upcoming artists, the latest iteration of Roskilde proved to be a win for a more diverse line-up, including LGBTQ+ game-changers. 

GAY TIMES rating: ★★★★